Tigers' victory a real gem for Fox


NEW YORK -- Kenny Rogers' pitching performance leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals helped Fox win primetime Sunday in both key measures after Saturday's opener dropped to the lowest-rated World Series game in history.

Fox won Saturday and Sunday in primetime, Saturday against weak competition but Sunday against heavy-hitting "Desperate Housewives" on ABC and an all-new lineup on CBS.

Meanwhile, Disney Channel scared up a big audience for the premiere of its latest original movie, "Return to Halloweentown," which drew 7.5 million total viewers in its debut from 8-9:50 p.m. Friday, making it the most-watched basic cable program of the day. Among the kid demos, "Halloweentown," the fourth movie in a franchise that started in 1998, drew 3.2 million kids 6-11 and 2.9 million tweens 9-14, making it TV's most-watched program among all broadcast and cable networks for the entire day in those demos.

On Sunday, Game 2 of the World Series, which started after 8 p.m. EDT following an overrun from "NFL on Fox," averaged 18.2 million viewers and a 5.8 rating in adults 18-49, according to preliminary (but time-zone-adjusted) estimates by Nielsen Media Research. That's up from last year's Game 2 between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros, which averaged 17.2 million viewers and a 5.7 in adults 18-49.

It was Fox's highest Sunday night rating since January's NFC Championship and gave the network some reason for hope after Saturday's ratings disaster. Saturday night's opener of the World Series not only didn't feature high-profile teams, but it also was a blowout, with the Tigers' bats not showing well against Cardinals rookie pitcher Anthony Reyes.

Saturday's Game 1 averaged 12.8 million viewers, according to time-zone-adjusted fast nationals; last year's Astros-White Sox opener averaged 15 million viewers. It was the lowest-rated first game of a World Series ever, according to Nielsen. But Sunday night's ratings recovery -- and the guarantee of at least a fifth game after the past two years of four-game sweeps -- led Fox to optimism that this year's World Series wasn't going to be a total washout.

Whatever the comparisons, Fox remained atop the weekend ratings. ABC came in second, with "Housewives" (19.5 million, 8.0/18) hitting its lowest 18-49 ratings so far this season and matching its lowest original share in its three-year history. "Brothers & Sisters" (12.1 million, 5.0/12) tied with last week's performance. "America's Funniest Home Videos" (9.6 million, 3.0/9) was original, while "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (5.8 million, 2.3/6) wasn't.

CBS programd all originals, with mostly good results. "60 Minutes" (11.8 million, 2.6/8) was down from last week, but it was without a boost from a football overrun, while "The Amazing Race" (11 million, 3.8/9) was in the neighborhood of last week. "Cold Case" (14.6 million, 4.3/10) was up from last week (14 million, 3.9/9), giving its highest demo ratings so far this season. But it didn't much help "Without a Trace" (14.8 million, 4.3/11), which was down from last week's 4.5/12 (and 15.2 million viewers) as well as its season average in the demo.

Without "Sunday Night Football" this week, NBC's ratings suffered, with its "Football Night in America" and three hours of "Heroes" repeats combining for only 5.1 million viewers and a 3.7/9. The CW averaged 3.2 million viewers and a 1.1/3 for "Seventh Heaven" (down slightly from last week) and 2 million viewers and a 0.9/2 in the demo for "Runaway," which was up slightly from last week.

For the night, ABC had 13.5 million viewers and a 5.2/13 in the demo, followed by CBS (13.1 million, 3.7/9), NBC (5.1 million, 2.1/5), Fox (16.1 million, 5.4/14) and the CW (2.3 million, 0.9/2).

Kimberly Nordyke in Los Angeles contributed to this report.